Dark Dweller

Dark Dweller by Garith Worthington

Book reviewed by Lilly Andrews

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.”― Robert Greene.

So it is with “Dweller”, written by Gareth Worthington, a multi-award storyteller. Here, a helium mining mission to Jupiter by a team of explorers and scientists from the Earth is on course. Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe but it’s interestingly so scarce on the Earth. The team understands that acquiring it means getting rich as proved by the many scientists who have become billionaires after such operations.  Purchase Here.

Unlike what they expected, Jupiter’s orbital path seems altered and an escape pod revolving towards their vessel seems to not only jeopardize the mission but their lives seem threatened. The team suddenly stands mesmerized at the site of a young girl trapped in the pod. Her strange demeanor and fearful words are both scary. Who is she? A plan decades in the making is almost being ruined. Is she in danger or is she a danger to the mission?

A new assignment to pick a research scientist in Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons is about to derail their dream further. They are literally balancing on a knife’s edge. Aggravating challenges like gravitational shift, rapid temperature change, extreme nausea, radiation, and unimaginable cold atmospheres tear the team apart. It is now the survival of the fittest.

This ode boasts strong lucid language and solid action that will make you clench your fists and heave your chest in anticipation and thrill. Further, the oeuvre is peppered with an intense emotional atmosphere as exhibited in the outspoken and radical nature of the characters. Like a medieval troubadour, the sceneries careen through an array of emotions that are by turns poignant and vibrant. This leaves readers searching and hoping that the next chapter will introduce a ray of light to the already intense narrative.

This is a solid visceral read for everyone with an interest in knuckle-hard science fiction from one of the literary giants of our time. It is irrefutably several notches above what you usually get in any fiction work.

 

 

Blood Moon

Blood Moon: The Rising Series: Book 2 by Heather Graham and Jon Land

Book Reviewed by Russell Ilg

APOCYALPSE POW!

Those who thought the notion of teenagers saving the world ended with this season’s “Stranger Things” need to think again. Heather Graham and Jon Land go that great television series one better in the equally great BLOOD MOON, a riotous, rollicking, roller-coaster ride that makes us feel like kids again.  Purchase Here.

The book is actually a sequel to “The Rising,” the name now born by the series as a whole. For those unfamiliar with how the journey started, that prequel introduced us to high school All-American football player Alex Chin. Alex is the ultimate illegal alien because he’s actually from another world, smuggled to Earth in possession of a secret that’s the only thing that can prevent the total destruction of our, and now his, world.

We found out near the end of “The Rising” that the secret in question is actually an organic computer chip implanted in Alex’s brain. And, while it may be the only thing that can save humanity, it’s slowly killing him. BLOOD MOON pretty much jumps off from that point, with Alex and his former tutor, and current love interest, Samantha Dixon on the run from enemies both human and otherwise. They’re once again aided by Raiff, an adult refugee from Alex’s world whose own emotions are thrown into a tizzy when Elaina, the woman he has loved from afar since he was a boy himself, appears up close.

Elaina is Alex’s birth mother who sent him across the spacebridge, kind of a wormhole on steroids, with Raiff when Alex was a mere infant. Only Elaina understands the significance of the four mysterious keys Alex and Sam are chasing around the world, following cryptic clues outlined in an ancient manuscript written in a language only Alex can decipher. Having relied on Sam’s tutoring to survive high school, he now finds himself imbued with new skills and knowledge as a result of that leaky computer chip, and BLOOD MOON is as much a race to save Alex as it is to save the entire world.

Don’t let the science fiction label dissuade you from digging in. Graham and Land give us only what we need to know and not a shred more. That makes the sometimes fearsome, and sometimes throwback, technology accessible for even the least geeky among us. And readers will especially enjoy both the eerie origins of the Golem legend brought literally to life, as well as a brilliant homage to the skeletal swordsmen featured in the original “Jason and the Argonauts.”

Graham and Land have concocted an action-adventure tale of rare pathos and heart, layering emotion atop a constant stream of escalating set pieces that turn BLOOD MOON into one long, unabated chase scene that goes from zero to sixty in a nanosecond. The book’s relentless pacing leaves us even more breathless than our young heroes as we race alongside them, cheering every step of the way. This is storytelling at its absolute best, a smooth and savory blend of “Terminator” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” blended with the best from the old “Outer Limits” TV show. Tumultuous and terrific, BLOOD MOON is an instant classic that’s a masterpiece of form, function and fun.

Saw the Forest

Saw the Forest by Patrick McConnell

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A read which keeps your heart as invested as your mind, Patrick L. McConnell’s Saw the Forest explores life through a multi-faceted lens, bringing attention to aspects of the human condition, wrapped in layers of emotion and motive through the experiences of life. Presented with a grove of eclectic characters, each on their own life’s journey but whose paths cross in dynamic and life-altering ways. Purchase Here.

A deft storyteller, author Patrick L. McConnell, captures the attention quickly with his literate narrative, which features a well-drawn cast of characters, each as interesting as the next to
meet, as well as somehow entangled within the same web of a diverse community collective. Moreover, the story divulges uniquely posed aspects of human nature, exemplified through the characters, inclusive of traits like love, bravado, religion, violence, as well as politics. Moreover, skillfully presented amidst relatable interactions which create an interwoven mosaic of human frailty and strengths, making exciting fuel for this evocative, character driven read.

Immediately, this literate, detail focused narrative brings into view the Right family; father, Artemus a doctor, Mother Taniaz, and their sons, Philip and Adam. The brothers are a unique pair, in that, younger brother Adam takes care of his elder brother Philip, who is considerably larger and stronger than him, but his mind is that of a child. As the family dynamic changes over time, after having lost both parents, the pair of brothers live humble lives as adults, still sharing a close bond. Adam, quietly stalwart, socially awkward, even reticent but well-meaning remains his brother’s faithful keeper who at times can become an unintentionally aggressive and intimidating handful.

Next, we meet Maryanne Whipple. She presents an intensely sympathetic character, and at age 24, she is attractive, and intelligent, but also scarred both physically and mentally. Additionally, having been recently released from service in the military, Maryanne bears a hard set life as she lives life from a wheelchair scarred from war and challenged with a mostly missing right leg and a damaged left, which makes finding a direction in life an uncertainty. And although she is somewhat shell shocked, albeit traumatized, she also harbors an empathetic nature as well as a brave heart.

As a matter of fact, each ensuing chapter adds further depth to the story with the addition of new characters, each being an intriguing inclusion to the story, adding another thread to the web of life especially when they intersect with the more prominent characters. Also meanwhile, an undercurrent of mystery flows throughout the story as machinations of characters and events occur via the receipt of mysterious emails coming to nun sister Alana Orrick, the context of which is often peculiar but also leads to life altering illumination.

All in all, I absolutely enjoyed Saw the Forest, by author Patrick L. McConnell. I am definitely a fan, especially after having read his previous work, The Gene Rasp. In particular, I find his style of writing, welcoming, entertaining and proficiently literate. He provides plenty of interesting action, characters, settings, and storylines. Additionally, his adept storytelling abilities escort you on a literary journey that is not only easily appealing, intricately detailed, and filled with intriguing personas, but also captures the imagination by virtue of the refreshing insertion of science fiction/fact-based elements. I definitely recommend this as well his other work as they are well worth the read and would make great movies.

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Araya by E. Detorres

Book Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

An elite team of Gundogs has been trained by Ellis Fast to hunt down and kill Gluttons for their armor. Gluttons are the deadliest and most ferocious creatures in Hell’s Heart, a Black Forest filled with trees that can influence people through music and lyrics and cause them to lose their sanity. While on a mission, one of the team members is killed in a particularly heinous way by a Glutton. The remaining members make the trek out of the forest before they lose touch with reality. After returning to their mountain abode, they are hired to retrieve an asset that the military believes could change the tide of an ongoing war, and the secretive weapon is located deep in the Black Forest. Ellis along with team members Alex Bright and Smug embark on a mission fraught with threats from sadistic creatures that live in the forest, the trees that invade people’s minds and cause horrifying reactions in behavior against themselves and/or others, and soldiers from warring factions. Will the team find the asset and make it out of the forest to safety or will they succumb to the call of the trees and/or be killed by the minacious life forms before they can complete their mission? Purchase Here.

Whenever characters recall events from their past, the transitions are smooth and seamless. All of the memories not only have had a lasting impact on the characters’ lives and the motivations behind the ways they react to the life-threatening circumstances in which they find themselves but also affect how they deal with the deadly mental attacks that could upend their lives at any moment. Ellis taught special needs children before taking on the task of hunting Gluttons, and his memories involving some of his students are an integral part of the storyline. E. Detorres is well-qualified to write about special needs children and their behavioral responses and the best ways to communicate with them. The use of adapted sign language in the story serves an important purpose.

Araya is a gripping dark thriller in which psychological terror plays a big part, and it never lets up in tension and suspense. The expert use of imagery and metaphors by Detorres ignites readers’ imaginations so that they can easily picture images in their minds of the setting and the characters, while also experiencing the action in the story. The violent scenes and material depicting sexual behavior are described in graphic detail. There are a number of heart-pounding incidents in Araya that will leave readers wondering how things will turn out for the characters. Detorres has penned an excellent book that superbly illustrates the resilience of the human spirit and is well-worth reading.

The Gene Rasp

The Gene Rasp by Patrick McConnell

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A noteworthy excursion into the world of science fiction, Patrick L. McConnell’s The Gene Rasp renders the heart and the mind rapt with its exploration of the heart and humanity through the journey of the inventor of a phenomenal life-altering device offering hope to mankind for a future utopia. Purchase Here.

Fascinating from its outset, the story takes place in the future, with the autobiography of the central character Tom Spoon later known as Dr. Tom Maloof due to be published in the year 2165. However this is no ordinary autobiography because Tom is no ordinary person; as a matter of fact, he becomes the savior of future humanity as he invents a revolutionary medical device called the Gene Rasp which can alter genetics of individuals offering cures for cancer as well as many other diseases thusly making the road to immortality a little clearer.

Easily engaging, the story captivates as Tom Spoon charms readers into his world with a humble and comfortable tone, drawing rich images as he reflects on his life, remembering people, relationships, and experiences which affected his journey from orphan to renowned doctor. He recounts having grown up in an orphanage of which we learn that life for Tom was lonely as a boy, although surrounded by many others, he was different, as he struggled with dyslexia. Believing his brain was broken but determined to overcome his affliction, he yearned to be both understood and connected to something, he began to write poetry, heartfelt masterpieces which appear interspersed throughout the story. Tom grows despite dyslexia going on to accomplish much with his life. He wins a woodworking contest at eighteen, attends college, and later graduate school. Altogether Tom’s journey culminates into a hopeful version of an immortal future.

Entirely a very likable read, The Gene Rasp garners the attention with an intelligent and richly woven journey through a science fiction narrative. I enjoyed author Patrick L. McConnell’s efforts within this work as he successfully brought forth a story that was simultaneously thought-provoking and touching. In particular, I appreciated the refreshing inclusion of intermittent QR code scanning tags and URL links as well as the inclusion of the end of the screenplay for the movie version, all served well to enhance the reading experience by creating deeper interaction with the reader. Also personally, I think this would make a great movie and I look forward to more works by author McConnell. This is a read definitely worth adding to your science fiction collection.

The Ashorne's Ingress

The Ashorne’s Ingress by Seamus Eaton

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Truly a prolific read, Seamus Eaton’s The Ashorne’s Ingress excites the imagination with a multifaceted, and complex fantasy epic which proffers to readers an enticing narrative rich with the craftily blended elements of fantasy, horror, gore, magic, science fiction, and sex.  Purchase Here.

Initially, events start out on earth, the year is 2020 and we are introduced to the focal character William Gentry, who is in the midst of a softball game when his whole world comes tumbling down as he receives the news that his family was severely injured in a freak kitchen accident, that leaves his wife and son dead, and his daughter’s life hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, as he struggles with his emotions and the devastation of the loss, William finds himself approached by two beings claiming to be ambassadors from a land called Arba, located on another world. Claiming to have knowledge of his true identity and legacy, they extend to him a very odd offer, that if accepted would lead to saving his daughter’s life, and possibly more, they only catch is he has to drown himself in a specific river, at a specific time and carry with him an odd triangle they left with him called the Germ of Reismyl. Distraught, in disbelief and teetering on the edge of insanity, he initially misses the opportunity to take the plunge, resulting in the unfortunate death of his daughter.

Eventually, William (who comes across as a very sympathetic character) does take the plunge, later and winds up in Arba a world in turmoil, where greed, filth, sex, violence, slavery, treachery, magic, and the Triumvirate elite sacrifice beings for the sheer pleasure of attending a party, is the way of life. Arba is not an easy place to exist for its vast array of Denizens, which range from human to many creative varieties of beings, including goat people, reptilians, and amphibian humanoids. Moreover, as an entrant in Arba, William is forced to endure tremendous horrors, while making his foray into the Arban environ.

Meanwhile, stories within the story play out as different parts of the Arban environ, come into view chapter by chapter with a slew of characters and subplots which all fuel the story into the expansive fantasy epic that it turns out to be. Ultimately events around the Arban environ are shown to be playing out as devious machinations behind the scenes put into motion a hellish plan that would alter the Arban environment for the much worse.

Overall, The Ashorne’s Ingress made for an absorbing, entertaining epic of a novel that I enjoyed. Seamus Eaton wields literate lucidity with his writing style which successfully kept me wholly immersed and completely engaged within his epically expansive, adult-themed, fantasy world. I personally enjoyed the horror and fantasy elements that seemed reminiscent of author Clive Barker, one of my personal all-time favorite authors, particularly when it came to the more horrifying elements of the story. Additionally, there are other perks within this work besides the overall story including a detailed map of the Arba, letters from the journal of another human in Arba which gives great backstory elements, also a glossary which is very helpful, and a detailed history, as well as calendars. Ultimately, I would undoubtedly recommend this for fantasy fans seeking a new and extraordinary world populated with well-formulated characters to become immersed in. The read is well worth it.

The Friends of Allan Renner

The Friends of Allan Renner by David J. Andrae

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Dave J. Andrae’s The Friends of Allan Renner proposes an intelligent exploration of life through a multi-level, multiperspectival narrative which comes by virtue of Allan Renner’s encounters and discourse with his eclectic assortment of friends. Purchase Here.

This book is definitively an offering of food for thought, brimming with revelations about life and people in general. This is a narrative that is provocative in its ideals and shines through its characters, their thoughts, actions and personalities during their congregations with central character Allan Renner often giving a story within a story as their backstories are also very revealing about human nature. Moreover, although this work is a fictional story, the subject matter of their encounters and conversations are realistic, important, and quite often thought provoking with topics such as astrophysics, cosmology, modern culture, racism, film making, futurism, sex, dating, technology, as well as artistic endeavors.

Ultimately, as the story’s protagonist, Allan Renner is an interesting characterization. He is intelligent, amiable, stalwart, a film buff and occasionally, works freelance as a production assistant. Meanwhile, within the seven chapters of the book, each chapter is centered around an encounter with a different friend. Perspectively, life is seen through the diversity of fascinating viewpoints with each acquaintance. Also at play is the diversity of their backstories which allows for a deeper look into their thought processes with the conversations delving into various aspects of the human condition.

First, we meet Akhil Das, a well-degreed high school guidance counselor, astrophysics enthusiast, and unfortunate alcoholic. Akhil and Allan delve into conversation on the topics concerning cosmology and the beginning and end of humanity. Next, we meet Allan’s friend Sadie Guildwood, an attractive middle-aged woman who was once head-vocalist in a semi popular band, as well as social media blogger. Essentially the interaction between Sadie and Allan presents a bit of sexual tension as there is a potential for a romantic encounter between the two that does not materialize but hope for it looms in the air. Their conversations include juxtaposing working in cinema versus working as a musician, the future of humanity, future technology, and Transhumanism. Additionally, there are spates of inner mentations concerning their likes and dislikes about one another. The pace picks up, when the two meet with an acquaintance of Sadie’s that take things on an interesting twist. Moving on to the next friend, we meet Fred, a multiracial African American jazz enthusiast who grew up somewhat privileged. Also a budding film director and teacher, Fred believes in the power of cinema to help people. What makes this chapter stand out is the reactions of characters while waiting for a seasoned criminal to come and audition for a film. The remainder of the book encompasses chapters based on his parents, his pet Havapoo Ruby, as well as pivotal friends Carmen and Xynnulu.

Altogether the people and experiences in the chapters of Allan Renner’s life made for an interesting, nicely paced story, woven with absorbing, complicated characters enmeshed in a creative narrative with scenes of a life that are revelatory, endearing, and pulse racing. I enjoyed The Friends of Allan Renner by Dave J. Andrae; it made for great read, with a storyline that included a nice science fiction twist and I do recommend it for adult readers.

Miguel Traveler

Miguel Traveler: The Man from Texas by Daniel McFatter

Book reviewed by Chris Phillips

Miguel wakes up floating in a solution and being cuddled and cared for by “Mama.” There is a lot going on around him and suddenly he is washed out of a large tank of fluid in to the arms of Alice, the Woman in Black. This is the surprise beginning.  Purchase here.

The story is told from Miguel’s perspective, throughout. It is unusual for a 1st person book to hold the interest of most readers, but this is one of the few that is very well written. There are 3 sections, each proceeded by a poem that nonetheless becomes important to the story. Almost from the beginning there is action, excitement and so many seemingly mundane encounters, but prove to be truly not.

“Man is unto himself the Great Work-a puzzle to be opened, explored and ultimately solved.” This quote is almost integral to a good in-depth analysis of the book. This is one book requiring some thought after reading it because of the depth presented.

Miguel changes perspective from the dystopian future where “Man Diminished” to the time of his former life in the early 2000s, Part 2, “Once Upon a Time on Farm Road 216.” Much has changed in the long time (undefined but suggested as 250 years in the future from Miguel’s life when he disappeared in 2012). And Miguel must discover it, cope with it and find his own place. It is not until the last moment when the plot climaxes into Miguel’s purpose in life is found and made complete.
Although Miguel is the main character and the narrator throughout there are many people enter into the telling. Most of those fit well into the current events of today, especially those from the former life, however, there are so many new types of creatures, people and other entities in the future it sometimes leads to confusion which gradually leads more to an understanding of what Miguel thinks of himself and other humans. The first life is a collection of memories he slowly remembers at first, but becomes vividly clear and integral to the plot and the self discovery of Miguel in the future world.

With simulants, enhanced humans, diseased humans, and entities which appear human but have abilities well beyond human normal abilities, the book covers a lot of ground and also reveals, very gradually, that the humans are the core to the situation, problems and solutions.
The characters are developed well enough for each one’s purpose in the story. The plot is inexorable and yet very reasonable looking back through the book. It is well developed and carried through with a certain finesse. The writing is usually consistent and apparently Miguel’s memory is very detailed with how the first life and those situations are relayed. There are some difficult passages based on dialect and some in Spanish, notwithstanding these are also discernible with a little thought.

This book can be recommended to any readers. There is some adult language, adult situations not involving sex and a lot of extreme violence. Those would be the cautions for younger readers. Those who like post-apocalyptic tales will enjoy this. Those who like psychologically and sociologically based drama will definitely enjoy this.